Can Migraines Be Caused By Germs in Your Mouth?

Many migraine sufferers are convinced that certain food and drinks trigger their episodes. There may be more to this picture, which involves germs.

Who’s Got a Filthy Mouth?

Certainly, there are various reasons causing the onset of a severe headache. However, a recent study showing a connection between mouth bacteria and nitrates may shed some light on why some people suffer from oftentimes debilitating, migraine headaches.

It is entirely true that nitrate consumption can have adverse symptomatic and physical affects. But how come it doesn’t affect everyone the same?

Understanding Nitrates

Nitrates are a type of salt used to preserve meats and other consumables that can grow dangerous forms of bacteria. In the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of brouhaha surrounding the peril of nitrates found in deli meats and bacon, for example. There are also nitrates in wines and some chocolates.

But get this: Only a small percent (maybe 5%) of nitrates we ingest come from processed meats. Our largest consumption comes from vegetables—around 80%, to be more accurate. Leafy greens, cabbage, beets, and other plants contain nitrates from our soil, water, and nitrogen in our air.

Nitrates to Nitrites

Meat producers back in the early 1900s discovered that sodium nitrate  changes composition when it interacts with germs. They realized that when they added nitrate to the meat and then it combined with the growing bacteria, it became sodium nitrite. Nowadays, producers simply cut to the chase and just add synthetic nitrite.

All the medical and media coverage about the dangers of nitrites is because when it’s heated over 265 degrees, it becomes a carcinogen. So the USDA has limited the amount of nitrites utilized in food products.

Here’s Where The Mouth Germs Fit In

Just as nitrates convert to nitrites from bacteria on meat, so the same do the nitrates we eat. Green leafy vegetables that naturally contain nitrates become nitrites when they mix with the bacteria in our mouths. Does this mean we shouldn’t eat veggies? Absolutely not.

First of all, our bodies store those naturally formed nitrites in our cells until the molecules become nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a necessary compound, which benefits blood flow and maintains healthy blood vessels.

The Migraine Study

The results of the analysis made by the American Gut Project was just published in a journal from the American Society for Microbiology. By examining saliva and fecal matter from over 2,000 participants, the researchers concluded that those who suffered migraines had significantly higher levels of certain microbes. They basically had more germs in their mouths and digestive tracts.

Whether those particular microbes came from nitrites shows a link, but nothing was cause-and-effect definitively.

Trigger Point Therapy Self Massage Tool
Trigger Point Therapy Self Massage Tool

How This May Help

Once again, this study reminds us how important it is to keep balance in our gut microbiome. We can give up processed meats and wine (maybe not chocolate), but we definitely shouldn’t omit vegetables for fear of nitrate overconsumption.

If you suffer from migraines, try removing foods and beverages that have added nitrates from your diet. See if that makes a difference. Additionally, get good rest and make a commitment to reducing your stress levels. A good life includes a pain-free one.

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Get Prepared for Cold and Flu Season

As the seasons are charging and the cold weather begins to close in on us, we need to start preparing for the cold and flu season. Planning ahead for cold and flu season will make life a lot easier on your family. Here are some tips that we do for our family that can be helpful for you to better prepare.


Making your cold and flu fighting kit


Start off by inventorying you medicine cabinet, just in case you may be low or out of ascentials. You are going to want to make sure you have pain relievers/ fever reducers, such as tylenol or motrin. Also the obvious cold and flu medicine is another necessity. The way we do it in our family, we make sure to have at least one bottle of fever reducer and one bottle of cold medicine per child. Same goes for the adults. We keep special cold medicine that doesn’t have any Tylenol in it (for the one weird one that is allergic to Tylenol).


Also stocking up on herbal teas is a good idea. Sleepytime tea is really good for a cold. The chamomile in it helps to relax you and help you rest, while the spearmint will help open you up similar to vicks vapor rub.


Another huge must have in your cold and flu fighting kit is an oral thermometer. It is really important to keep track of how high your families fevers get. If a fever gets too high you will need to get medical treatment as soon as possible. You can get more information on the best oral thermometers to keep in your cold and flu fighting kit on


Keeping the germs at bay


To help prevent the spread of germs, encouraging your family to wash their hands constantly is a must. Make sure to stock up on antibacterial soap and always use hot water when washing your hands. Stocking up on hand sanitizer too is a great way to be prepared for cold and flu season.


Another way to fight the germs is to use throw away cups, plates and eating utensils. You won’t have to worry about washing dishes or worry if you got them disinfected enough to not ‘play ping pong’ with getting a cold or flu.


Make sure to keep an arsenal of disinfectant spray. You are going to want to disinfect everything in the house daily (in my case I spray everything down at least twice a day). Making sure you kills off those pesky cold and flu germs will help your family get over being sick faster.


Last but definitely not least, make sure your family gets their flu shots. It may not fight the cold germs, it will prevent them from getting the flu.


Prepping for those upcoming sick days


It is important to have a plan of action for those upcoming sick days. In case you can’t get off work if your kids get sick, have a backup babysitter. Also check how many sick days you have available in case you get sick as well.


Stock up on soups, easy on the stomach meals, juice and ginger ale. You want to have the kitchen stocked with food and drinks that will be easy on the stomach, but still have the nutrition your family will need to fight off those cold and flu symptoms.


Cranberry juice is high in antioxidants, which help to boost the immune system. Orange juice is high in vitamin C, which is also good to boost the immune system and fight off infections and viruses. Ginger ale and cola will help ease an upset stomach.


Avoid any kind of overly spiced soups and foods, because these can cause upset stomachs. Bland may not taste all that great, but they will keep you from getting an upset stomach as well.


Movies, books, Netflix and plenty of rest


Rest is essential to getting over a cold or the flu. Get your favorite movies out, pay up on you Netflix account, and gather up some amazing reading material. Binge watching your favorite tv shows or having movie marathons will help your family to rest up and past the time while they are sick. For us it Harry Potter and Star Wars movie marathons. The binge watch their favorite cartoons on Netflix. And, of course, the stockade of e-book on the Kindle.


Getting sick sucks


While getting sick is not something anyone really looks forward to, being prepared does make it easier in case you and/or your family does get sick. Prep for the worst, but keep you hopes up for the best is a good a good way to look at it, when preparing for cold and flu season.

Contributed by Joe Fleming, Vive Health Co-Founder

Farmers Developing “Superbug” Infections

It’s already been established that farmers and workers at hog production facilities can acquire bacteria in their noses. A recent study, however, shows that they are actually at increased risk of infection. Many now have developed skin infections from “superbugs,” which, is a frightening predicament.

What’s a Superbug?

It’s not a real bug; it’s an indestructible form of bacteria. The superbug has emerged from the overuse of antibiotics. Bacteria has mutated and become more powerful with each line of antibiotic defense we’ve invented. What’s happened now is that the bug has become stronger than the medicine.

The superbug has become drug-resistant.

It appears we are unable to fight what was once an ordinary staph infection. MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can be acquired at gyms, in the hospital, or anywhere germs can grow and multiply easily.

Back in May, Thrive’s founder, Dr. Dave Campbell, weighed-in on the superbug topic. Click here to watch his appearance and discussion on MSNBC.

Without creating alarm, it is still important to understand that each year, around the world, approximately 700,000 people die from superbug infections.

Hog Facility Workers

Those who work in the hog farming business have been urged to wear masks when in the production facility. Pigs are given antibiotics, so they don’t fall ill and grow faster. Due to overuse, bacteria has become resistant, and infections are not responding to medicinal treatment.

So, it appears that humans are at risk from working in these types of environments. This particular research even shows that family members of the workers have contracted untreatable staph infections as well.

The participants in the study (over 100 hog facility workers and 80 children in their households) had their noses swabbed for bacteria. The study revealed that 44 percent of the workers and 39 percent of their household members had staph. Almost half of those infected were multi-drug resistant.

Those with livestock-facility borne staph in their noses were five times more likely to have a skin or soft-tissue infection. Those who were already multidrug-resistant were almost 10 times more likely to develop “incurable” skin infections.

It Doesn’t Have to Be So Bleak

Prescribers of antibiotics need to be vigilant about not over-prescribing. Antibiotic users should absolutely complete doses. We can support food producers who do not use antibiotics or growth hormones in their livestock and products. We can also support research that deigns to discover new ways to battle the superbug.




What Do Cash and Germs Have in Common?

As kids, we heard, “Don’t put money in your mouth!” As adults, we forget, but money (coins and bills) carry bacteria. A new investigation, however, reports that ATM keypads may be the mother-of-all germ-carriers.


Who doesn’t love money? But little do we keep in mind that paper cash can carry more bacteria than a public toilet. Germs can survive on most surfaces for a couple of days. According to an article in Time Magazine, paper money can deliver a flu virus for up to 17 days.

So what do we do?

We can wear gloves before touching cash. Or wash our hands with soap and directly afterwards. Or use a squirt of sanitizer. But is that realistic?

Cash, Please

One of the biggest germ-delivering culprits, according to a study conducted in New York City, are ATM machines. Keypads from the indoor and outdoor bank machines were swabbed for microbes.

The majority of the microbes discovered were from human skin. Bacteria from household surfaces (kitchen counters, televisions, sinks, and more) were discovered as well. Another large finding was food—several strangers’ fast food lunch transferred from their hands to the keypad. Yuk!

Clean, Disinfect, Sanitize

Aside from keeping our hands away from our faces, we can try to wash them when possible; that will help keep germs at bay. Realistically, however, we can’t avoid some contact with bacteria and/or viruses. Besides, we need to build our immune systems—one way to do so is by having the body naturally fight off unwanted bugs.

Cleaning with soap or detergent removes germs from the surface of objects. It won’t eradicate bacteria, but it lowers the amount of microbes in that location. Disinfecting actually kills germs, but you have to use chemicals or a natural formula comprised of various liquids. Sanitizing means you either clean or disinfect. Any of the three options you choose will lower your risk of catching what’s been hanging around.

What to Disinfect?

Think about all the objects and surfaces your hands touch throughout your home. Then think about all the family members and friends and where their hands have been. When it’s cold and flu season, try to wipe down the following everyday, if possible:


-telephone receiver

-toilet flushing handle

-light switches

-refrigerator door handle

-table tops

-computer keyboard and mouse

What to Use as a Sanitizer

A mixture of antibacterial soap and water can suffice. You might want to use something more potent, but natural. DIY cleaning mixtures can often include vinegar, essential oils, and even vodka!

Try and stay away from bleach products as they’ve shown to cause respiratory issues, exacerbate asthma or headaches, and can cause great distress to skin when on contact.

There are many “green” cleaning products on the market today. Here’s to keeping a healthy home and family (or at least trying our best!)


Water Alert: How to Avoid Swimming Illnesses

Water play can be the best part of summer activity. Swimming illnesses, however, can easily be contracted without taking certain safety precautions. In order to stay healthy and make the most of your leisure time, here are a few tips.

Checking out The Surf

If you’re going to be swimming in the ocean, many lifeguard stands have postings of water temperature and quality. Unfortunately, the water at some beaches is horribly polluted and can cause illness if ingested or enters a wound. If you’re concerned, you can always check out water quality and associated health questions at:

Swimming pools should have a functioning filtering system. Avoid going into a pool where showering is not mandatory before entering. Chlorine in the water kills most germs in less than an hour. Some types of germs, however, take hours or days to kill, even in properly disinfected pools.  By the way, salt-water pools have chlorine too, so that’s helpful.

Swimming Illnesses

Specific types of illnesses can be contracted from germs in a body of water. They can enter through your mouth when you accidentally swallow the water. They can enter your bloodstream if the germs come in contact with an open wound. Your nose and ears are also susceptible to bacterial infection.

Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI) can cause gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin, and even neurologic infections. Probably the most common is Swimmer’s Ear. Swimmer’s ear occurs when water gets trapped in the ear canal. It’s an infection that can be bacterial or fungal.

You’ll know if your child gets an ear infection from swimming because his ear will hurt to touch it. The outside hurts, whereas a regular, non-water based infection usually hurts inside more. Hearing may decrease, and there may be a yellowish pus discharge.

How to Avoid…

Healthy swimming habits such as practicing good hygiene can keep illnesses at bay. If everyone washed his/her hands with soap and water after using the restroom, it would help tremendously. Also, anyone with diarrhea should not use a pool until they are well again.

Swimmer’s ear can be avoided by drying out your ears afterward being in the water. A towel or the corner of a washcloth can be used. Even a hairdryer pointed towards the ear, from about a foot away, can help. Cotton swabs should never be used to dry the ear canal because there’s danger of damaging your eardrum.

If you or your child develops a swimming illness like an earache, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic or antifungal drops. Keep the ear canal as dry as possible until the condition is cleared up. This may mean staying out of the lake, pool, ocean, or even bathtub for a few days.

Try not to let fear guide you. Being forewarned and taking precautions should enable you and your children to enjoy swimming to the max! For more short-reads and tips on keeping your family healthy and safe, check out